Too spaced out to remember his number?

British astronaut Timothy Peake waving goodbye before his flight to the space station.
British astronaut Timothy Peake waving goodbye before his flight to the space station.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

NEW YORK • He may have the right stuff, but he got the wrong digits.

European Space Agency astronaut Timothy Peake phoned home to a wrong number from the International Space Station.

After failing to connect, the former British Army Air Corps officer took his flub to Twitter, posting: "I'd like to apologise to the lady I just called by mistake saying 'Hello, is this planet Earth?' - not a prank call... just a wrong number!"

It was not clear if the person who answered the call last Thursday understood how long-distance it was.

Responding to Mr Peake's tweet, one Twitter user wanted to know what the space station's area code was. But even without that, Earthlings can connect with the station: Its amateur radio frequencies are publicly available, and anyone with the right equipment and the required radio licence can try to call when it passes 400km above.

Mr Peake, 43, should probably be forgiven for his lack of mastery of ship-to-shore dialling, because he is a recent arrival to the International Space Station.

He is the first publicly funded British astronaut, and his voyage to the space station on Dec 15 was closely watched in Britain, where cost-conscious governments have generally avoided supporting human space flights.

His job during his six-month mission is running science experiments, he has said on his blog, and in his spare time, he is training for the London Marathon.

Earlier last week, Mr Peake helped two fellow crew members to conduct a space walk outside the space station.

Astronauts Tim Kopra and Scott Kelly from the US space agency Nasa went outside to fix a broken component.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 27, 2015, with the headline 'Too spaced out to remember his number?'. Print Edition | Subscribe